Dear JF Members:
Thanks to the Japan Forum for alerting its readership from time to time to books recently published that should be of interest to those of us who might otherwise not learn of them so promptly.
I myself have found useful two recent submissions – one on Clyde Prestowitz’ “Japan Restored,” the other on William D. O’Neil’s “The Plan that Broke the World” about the Schlieffen Plan in the First World War. I would like to present my own recommendation here for a book just out that dovetails (less optimistically) with Clyde’s scenario on the future course of Japan -- though I’m unable as yet to find any connecting Japan angle for it in the Schlieffen Plan of the Kaiser’s Second Reich.
The book: “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination.” The author: Dr. Debito Arudou. Publisher: Lexington Books, a division of Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, 378 pages. Available both in hardback (ISBN 978-1-4985-1390-6) and as an eBook (ISBN 978-1-4985-1391-3). Arudou will be familiar to Japan Times readers as one of their regular monthly columnists.
Lexington’s press release in full reads as follows: “Embedded Racism untangles Japan’s complex narrative on nationality and race and how it threatens Japan’s very survival. Because racial discrimination is unconstitutional but not illegal in Japan, structural and systemic discrimination against “foreigners” targets Visible Minorities, including citizens who don’t “look Japanese.” Analyzing case studies of hundreds of individual “Japanese Only” businesses, this book carefully reveals the construction of Japanese identity through legal structures, statute enforcement, public policy, and media messages. Incorporating a quarter-century of research by a naturalized Japanese citizen, Embedded Racism argues that Japan’s economic and demographic decline is irreversible until it can accept immigrants, regardless of physical appearance, as “new Japanese.”
Quoted on the book’s back cover, I for my part wrote: “Hats off to Arudou for breaking once and for all the Silence Barrier that has permitted Japan’s profound racial discrimination to purr along undisturbed well into the 21st century. Exposing at long last the definitional acrobatics of Japanese and foreign Japan Studies experts – who have argued that since there is nothing we could call racist attitudes in Japan it follows that there can be no systematic racial discrimination either – Arudou lays out voluminous evidence to the contrary showing how Japan actually operates in its laws, public policy, media messages, and social ordering.”
In the two months that have passed since its publication, the profound moral and policy questions raised by the massive migration of Near Eastern refugees into the continent of Europe only adds a poignant new relevance to Arudou’s study of Japan’s record to date on the acceptance and integration of people who “just don’t look Japanese.”
Ivan P. Hall
Chiang Mai, Thailand
5 January 2016

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